As with any other home renovation, you have to carefully budget for home painting. It’s not always clear right away how much painting your home will cost. Prices vary from company to company, and several factors come into play when crafting an estimate, such as square footage, type of paint, other material costs, labor, etc.
In some cases, the cheapest solution may be to tackle the job yourself. Of course, if you decide to do it yourself, you’ll still have to incur the material costs and take care of all the labor. Plus, if you make a mistake, it’s on you to fix it. So, the cost to paint a house isn’t set in stone, and it will cost more or less depending on if you hire a service or go it alone. To help you figure out the math, let’s compare some of the costs between a DIY paint job or a job done by professional painters.
Surface area is the main factor in determining the overall house painting cost. After all, more space requires more paint and more labor. Many painting services use square footage as an easy way to determine a quote, with all material and labor costs included. On average, painters charge about $2-$3/sq. ft. So, for a 1,000 sq. ft. space, that would cost $2,000-$3,000.
If you’re tackling the job yourself, you have to buy enough primer and paint to cover the job. A gallon of paint will take care of about 350-400 square feet, but two coats are often necessary. To use our example of a 1,000 sq. ft. space, you would need to purchase about 6 gallons of paint and 3 gallons of primer. Paint costs vary depending on the brand and finish. But on average, one gallon of paint costs about $60. To cover 1,000 sq. ft., then, you’ll have to pay about $360 for the paint. Primer is much cheaper (about $25 per gallon). In total, then, paint and primer might cost around $430.
You might note that $430 is less than 1/4 of $2,000. But there are plenty of other materials you’ll need for a DIY paint job.
You don’t need pro painters to tell you that you won’t get very far without paint brushes, rollers, trays, tape, and drop cloths. Fortunately, most of these materials don’t cost too much on their own. You just have to buy enough of everything. At most, all of these additional materials will only cost another $50 on the higher end. Between these materials and the paint itself, you may still be under $500 for the 1,000 sq. ft. space. But then it’s time to work.
The advantage of DIY painting is that beyond the material costs, you’re basically paying yourself to work. Otherwise, you’d be paying a painting company for the time it takes them to do the job. Of course, painting is hard work, and a lot of people would rather pay someone else to undergo the hardship and frustration involved.
Before painting even begins, you have to prepare the area. This involves removing furniture, laying down drop cloths, cleaning, etc. All in all, this prep work can take a considerable amount of time. For our 1,000 sq. ft. space, it might take 45 minutes to an hour to properly prepare the space. The painting itself may take another 3-5 hours, depending.
Overall, painting this space may take a full day’s work. Some painting companies charge by the hour, while others stick to the square footage method. Those who charge hourly might charge $30-$45 an hour. For six hours, that amounts to about $230 of labor on average. If we factor that into the DIY cost, the total job amounts to about $700-800 for 1,000 sq. ft. This is still much cheaper than $2,000. And remember that $230 is money you’re saving by doing the work yourself.
When hiring a professional painting service for an exterior or interior painting job, you’re in part paying for their experience. You can have peace of mind knowing that they will do the job efficiently and correctly. Plus, if anything goes wrong, the job should be under warranty. No matter what happens, you’ll be left with a great paint job for the agreed upon price.
Doing it yourself, on the other hand, means that any and all mistakes are on you. You may have to buy more paint for some touch-ups or redo an area entirely. You might accidentally fling some paint on your expensive furniture or carpet. Or, worst of all, you might get hurt on the job. Whatever happens, those costs (both time and money) are solely yours to pay. In the end, these errors may actually cost you more than if you had hired a painting service to begin with.
No matter what, painting your home will cost you. If you know what you’re doing and you’re willing to incur some risk, you can save a good chunk of money doing it yourself. But if you want peace of mind, insurance, and warranty, consider hiring the pros. At All American Painting Plus, we love seeing people take on home improvement projects themselves, but we also know that some jobs are more demanding than others. If you need a helping hand, give us a call at (703)-620-5563!